It’s probably not the done thing for a reviewer to feel sorry for an artist but I do feel a certain sense of, well, if not sympathy but certainly empathy with Ukrainian black metal band, Drudkh. They are one of the most feted of underground bands of recent times but there seems to have been a resolute reluctance to embrace them more widely. If Drudkh had a dollar for every band that cited them as a major influence then you get the idea that they would probably be living in very large houses indeed. Ah, well, the fickle mistress of music strikes again.
I doubt very much whether their lot is going to be massively altered by their latest record, “Eternal Turn of the Wheel”, either. This is a bit of a shame as it’s something of a return to form. This is Drudkh in reflective and introspective mode: it’s a record that ebbs and flows, shimmies and hollers around with aplomb and, occasionally, a certain level of majesty. It’s not as angry as earlier records like “Autumn Aurora” but what it lacks in anger and confrontation it more than makes up for in focus and artistic endeavour. A cynic might argue that the level of restraint suggests a lack of self-confidence; my own sense is that the band are back doing what they do best and doing it rather well, thank you very much.
No fan of Drudkh is going to carp about the elegant splendour that runs through the brilliant “Farewell to Autumn’s Sorrowful Birds” nor the anguish laden post black metal immersion that is “Breath Of Cold Black Soil”. Closing track “Night Woven Of Snow” …also has several moments of inspired and invigorating black metal that reminds you exactly who you are listening to.
There is, admittedly, something of a sense of trying to reclaim some lost ground around “Eternal Turn of the Wheel”. It is not the best record by Drudkh but nor is it the worst. It is not their most creative or ambitious record but that doesn’t mean it is without creativity or ambition as it has patches of both. What “Eternal Turn of the Wheel” does do- and well- is remind you that Drudkh are cited as a major influence for a very good reason- they do their black metal thing really very well indeed and we should, for that alone, be very thankful indeed that they are back and heading back to their best.